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The French Oven, hidden among family homes

In one regard, Scripps Ranch isn't so different from Paris after all

Loaves of bread sold daily at The French Oven
Loaves of bread sold daily at The French Oven

Wander the tightly packed, urban neighborhoods of Paris, and you may expect to find a boulangerie on nearly every city block. Drive the sprawling blocks of Scripps Ranch, on the other hand, and it’s a surprise to find anything other than eucalyptus trees and single-family homes. And yet, buried within the neighborhood is one of the finest French bakeries I’ve encountered in all of Southern California.

Place

The French Oven

10299 Scripps Trail suite e, San Diego

Turns out, the location of The French Oven is more a surprise than the quality of its goods. I found it more than half a mile from the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, Pomerado Road, practically hidden among a sprawl of residential properties and tennis courts.

A boulangerie counter located in suburban San Diego

Apparently, one of those properties is home to chef Yves Fournier, a fifth-generation French baker whose California career spans three decades, both cooking at luxury hotels and as the executive baking and pastry chef instructor at the San Diego Culinary Institute. It’s more likely most of us have eaten baked goods prepared by one of his students, than the master himself.

A sign taken from the family bakery in France, established in 1840

Incredibly, Fournier and his wife launched The French Oven as a humble pop-up business, baking croissants and the like for neighbors and friends. Four years ago, they moved into the small shop where, on one wall, hangs the original, wood sign for Boulangerie Fournier, the bakery founded in 1840 by the chef’s great, great grandfather in the town of Veyrier du Lac, near the French Alps.

A cross section of the plain croissant served by The French Oven

Though known mainly to those living in the area at first, The French Oven has only increased its regular clientele as word has spread. So, in October, it took over a neighboring suite to double the size of both shop and kitchen. I’m told a second oven will arrive soon, to keep up with demand for all the things it does well.

A heart sourdough loaf, only $6.50

Which include a lot of things, beginning with those sensational croissants. You may find almond croissants as well as pan au chocolate, of course, and if you’re very fortunate, you’ll visit on a day raspberry almond croissants are being served. But start with a simple, unadorned $3.25 croissant to understand why this crescent-shaped roll holds the top spot in the French bakery canon. Crispy on the outside, airy and tender within, these croissants manage to be buttery without being heavy, chewy without being doughy, flaky without being crumbly. The shop does use them to make a handful of sandwiches, ranging from bacon and egg to chicken curry, but trust me: they’re just about perfect, eaten on their own.

A California style sandwich, served with herbal aioli on a French baguette

I could heap nearly as much praise on the bakery’s other daily breads, which include round sourdough loaves ($6.50); long and slender baguettes ($3); and batards ($3.50, which in shape and flavor sit somewhere in between. Friday through Sunday, the shop offers brioches, plus flavored sourdough: kalamata olive, garlic, or cheddar jalapeño ($7.50 each).

A fruit eclair, filled with cream you'll want to try again

And if you dig that spot where traditional yields to California tastes, you will really love the grab-and -o turkey avocado BLT ($8.75). Merely being served on the bakery’s baguette would elevate this over most so-called California club sandwiches: this one’s made better thanks to a mustard-like, herbal aioli. It’s the sort of cold sandwich I might recommend grabbing any time you pass by, if the place weren’t so out of the way for virtually everyone. I’m missing it already.

Think of The French Oven as your weekend excuse to explore Scripps Ranch, even if you don’t want to play tennis or take a walk around the nearby Miramar Reservoir. And don’t forget that Fournier is also an expert pastry chef: there’s also a gorgeous and scrumptious assortment of French tarts, danishes, and eclairs ($4-6) that are certain to lure you back for a little taste of Paris, east of the 15 freeway.

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Loaves of bread sold daily at The French Oven
Loaves of bread sold daily at The French Oven

Wander the tightly packed, urban neighborhoods of Paris, and you may expect to find a boulangerie on nearly every city block. Drive the sprawling blocks of Scripps Ranch, on the other hand, and it’s a surprise to find anything other than eucalyptus trees and single-family homes. And yet, buried within the neighborhood is one of the finest French bakeries I’ve encountered in all of Southern California.

Place

The French Oven

10299 Scripps Trail suite e, San Diego

Turns out, the location of The French Oven is more a surprise than the quality of its goods. I found it more than half a mile from the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, Pomerado Road, practically hidden among a sprawl of residential properties and tennis courts.

A boulangerie counter located in suburban San Diego

Apparently, one of those properties is home to chef Yves Fournier, a fifth-generation French baker whose California career spans three decades, both cooking at luxury hotels and as the executive baking and pastry chef instructor at the San Diego Culinary Institute. It’s more likely most of us have eaten baked goods prepared by one of his students, than the master himself.

A sign taken from the family bakery in France, established in 1840

Incredibly, Fournier and his wife launched The French Oven as a humble pop-up business, baking croissants and the like for neighbors and friends. Four years ago, they moved into the small shop where, on one wall, hangs the original, wood sign for Boulangerie Fournier, the bakery founded in 1840 by the chef’s great, great grandfather in the town of Veyrier du Lac, near the French Alps.

A cross section of the plain croissant served by The French Oven

Though known mainly to those living in the area at first, The French Oven has only increased its regular clientele as word has spread. So, in October, it took over a neighboring suite to double the size of both shop and kitchen. I’m told a second oven will arrive soon, to keep up with demand for all the things it does well.

A heart sourdough loaf, only $6.50

Which include a lot of things, beginning with those sensational croissants. You may find almond croissants as well as pan au chocolate, of course, and if you’re very fortunate, you’ll visit on a day raspberry almond croissants are being served. But start with a simple, unadorned $3.25 croissant to understand why this crescent-shaped roll holds the top spot in the French bakery canon. Crispy on the outside, airy and tender within, these croissants manage to be buttery without being heavy, chewy without being doughy, flaky without being crumbly. The shop does use them to make a handful of sandwiches, ranging from bacon and egg to chicken curry, but trust me: they’re just about perfect, eaten on their own.

A California style sandwich, served with herbal aioli on a French baguette

I could heap nearly as much praise on the bakery’s other daily breads, which include round sourdough loaves ($6.50); long and slender baguettes ($3); and batards ($3.50, which in shape and flavor sit somewhere in between. Friday through Sunday, the shop offers brioches, plus flavored sourdough: kalamata olive, garlic, or cheddar jalapeño ($7.50 each).

A fruit eclair, filled with cream you'll want to try again

And if you dig that spot where traditional yields to California tastes, you will really love the grab-and -o turkey avocado BLT ($8.75). Merely being served on the bakery’s baguette would elevate this over most so-called California club sandwiches: this one’s made better thanks to a mustard-like, herbal aioli. It’s the sort of cold sandwich I might recommend grabbing any time you pass by, if the place weren’t so out of the way for virtually everyone. I’m missing it already.

Think of The French Oven as your weekend excuse to explore Scripps Ranch, even if you don’t want to play tennis or take a walk around the nearby Miramar Reservoir. And don’t forget that Fournier is also an expert pastry chef: there’s also a gorgeous and scrumptious assortment of French tarts, danishes, and eclairs ($4-6) that are certain to lure you back for a little taste of Paris, east of the 15 freeway.

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